Divine Ineffability

Philosophy Compass 10 (7):489-500 (2015)
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Though largely neglected by philosophers, the concept of ineffability is integral to the Christian mystical tradition, and has been part of almost every philosophical discussion of religious experience since the early twentieth century. After a brief introduction, this article surveys the most important discussions of divine ineffability, observing that the literature presents two mutually reinforcing obstacles to a coherent account of the concept, creating the impression that philosophical reflection on the subject had reached an impasse. The article goes on to survey some more recent work, which draws on the conceptual resources of existential phenomenology, pragmatism, and the later Wittgenstein. It shows that this work has made possible a new philosophical account of divine ineffability that surmounts the obstacles, overcomes the impasse and makes divine ineffability, once again, a live option in philosophy of religion. The article concludes with some brief remarks on how this alternative approach reflects recent trends in the discipline as a whole and has the potential to make a valuable contribution to live research questions in epistemology of religion

Author's Profile

Guy Bennett-Hunter
University of Edinburgh


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